Through a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas State Parks is developing Mississippi River State Park within the St. Francis National Forest in eastern Arkansas. To explore the park and national forest, travel two national scenic byways: The Great River Road and the Crowley's Ridge Parkway. Near Marianna on the north edge of the forest, the park visitor center is jointly staffed by Arkansas State Parks and U.S. Forest Service staff. It features exhibits interpreting the Mississippi River, Crowley's Ridge, and the Delta. The visitor center includes a large, multi-purpose area for hosting meetings, family reunions, and other group events. Also on the north end of Mississippi River State Park is the Beech Point Campground in the Bear Creek Lake Recreation Area. Accessed from Ark. 44, this campground is situated on a wooded peninsula in the lake. The campsites offer views of the lake and are surrounded by prime wildlife and birding habitat. Two courtesy docks provide campers with additional access to this lake known for its bream and bass fishing. The campground features 17 campsites [14 Class AAA with water/electric/sewer hookups and three Class D Walk-in Tent Sites]. Each paved site includes an adjacent, extended hardened living area with picnic table, grill, lantern hanger, and tent pad. A barrier-free bathhouse is centrally located. The campsite rental fee is $32 per night. For details on the campground, visit: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/news/for-media/display.aspx?id=1593.
Nearby are a swim beach, hiking trail
, fishing pier, boat ramp, and several picnic areas.
In a separate location on the lake, the park's Lone Pine Campground offers 14 Primitive RV/Tent Sites (no hookups) and vault toilets nearby, and the Maple Flats Campground.
The south side of the forest near Helena/West Helena features Storm Creek Lake, Hornor Neck Lake, and viewsof the St. Francis and Mississippi rivers. Primitive campsites are located near Storm Creek Lake, as well as a swimming beach, bathhouse, fishing pier, boat ramp, and rentable pavilion. Hornor Neck Lake includes a boat ramp and wildlife viewing trail. Enjoy views of large bald cypress trees and a possible alligator sighting.
The park visitor center is on Ark. 44 three miles southeast of Marianna. This information and education facility is staffed by both Arkansas State Parks and U.S. Forest Service employees to serve as information and interpretive center for the state park and the surrounding St. Francis National Forest. The discovery based and interactive exhibit gallery will connect you to the natural, cultural and historic resources of Mississippi River State Park and the St. Francis National Forest. For details about the visitor center, visit: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/news/display.aspx?id=2366
Campers should register at the visitor center before occupying a campsite. The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Make campsite reservations by calling the park office at:
Arkansas State Parks camping rules and regulations apply at the Beech Point Campground, Lone Pine Campground, and Maple Flat Campground.
Arkansas State Parks does not honor any federal camping discount cards but does offer its own camping discounts.
Arkansas State Parks is also administering the Day-use Area, boat ramp
and the Bear Creek Lake Nature Trail. As in all other Arkansas state parks, the Day-use Area and boat ramp are available to the public free of charge. Picnicking at the Beaver Point Picnic Area can also be enjoyed at no cost.
No hunting is allowed within the areas designated for state park facilities. These sites, since they have already been serving as public campgrounds and picnic areas, have traditionally been off limits to hunting activities.
The campground renovation at Beech Point Campground is a part of Phase I of a three-phased process to develop the new Mississippi River State Park at several different sites within the national forest through a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service [http://www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/index.html
]. Major locations where state park facilities will be developed following the Bear Creek Lake Recreation Area include the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi rivers and the Storm Creek Lake Recreation Area. The 550-acre state park will encompass approximately 2.4 percent of the forest’s total 22,600-acres, forest lands that stretch along Crowley’s Ridge and border the Mississippi River. The state park areas will serve as recreation sites within the forest while the Forest Service will continue managing the forest and its resources. The St. Francis is the only national forest that touches the Mississippi River.
On October 1, 2015, Arkansas State Parks took over the operation of all recreational facilities within the St. Francis National Forest.
From Marianna, follow Ark. 1B to Ark. 44 (The Great River Road/Crowley's Ridge Parkway) and go three miles southeast to the visitor center, six miles to the Bear Creek Lake Recreation Area.
Mississippi River State Park is part of the Great River Road. Please visit here
for more details.